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Washington State University
College of Education

February 2010

A career goal met, and then some

Paula Groves Price introduces Enrique Murillo

Career motivations don’t get much more poignant than the one offered to a WSU audience this week by Enrique G. Murillo Jr.: “I wanted to be the teacher I never had.”

In addition to teacher, Murillo’s job descriptions have included counselor, social-service worker, community organizer, consultant, lecturer, academic journal editor, researcher, and university instructor.   Paula Groves Price — his friend and former student and the WSU faculty member who introduced his Pullman lecture — noted that Murillo is also an historian.  While a graduate student, he conducted interviews of Latino immigrants in North Carolina that became the documentary film Cruceros y Caminos.

Araceli Frias and her role model

Araceli Frias adds another descriptor of Murillo: role model. She was among the students who met with him in Pullman, snagging his autograph for her copy of the Handbook of Latinos and Education, which he edited.  His scholarly work was the first she’d read that came from an indigenous/Chicano point of view.  Araceli is grateful for the breakfast discussion hosted by the Education Graduate Organization.

“The breakfast provided an intimate setting to talk to Dr. Murillo and engage in those scholarly conversations that are hard to come by, especially for Latina/o doctoral students,” says Araceli. “His advice was very helpful and personally meaningful to me because our similar backgrounds are what motivate our line of research.”

Araceli is pursuing a Ph.D. in cultural studies and social thought. She hopes to become a university vice provost for diversity.  Murillo, an associate professor  at California State University-San Bernardino, also met with undergraduates. Along with classroom tips, he offered them encouragement:  “Being a teacher is, I think, the most noble thing you can be in our society.”

Which technology? Which words?

Matt Marino

The good news: More kids with learning and other disabilities are participating in inclusive science classrooms. The bad news: Many of them struggle to keep up with their peers. As a result, few students with disabilities take advanced scientific courses. They don’t  imagine themselves as engineers or mathematicians.

Technology–ranging from smart phones to Internet games–offers promise for helping those students achieve academically, says Assistant Professor Matt Marino, and it could pique their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). But what’s the best way to use the technological teaching tools? In an article  that will be published in March by the Journal of Special Education Technology, he recommends a research agenda to answer that question.  As a result of the article, Matt was asked to co-edit an upcoming issue devoted to STEM and special education.

Matt has explored the technology question with help from a 2009 College of Education faculty research award.  Among the other winners last year was Professor Gisela Ernst-Slavit, whose award contributed to her fascinating study of teachers who have English language learners (ELLs) in their classrooms.

Gisela Ernst-Slavit

Gisela analyzed recordings of lessons given in five upper elementary classrooms. She discovered that even teachers who were well-schooled in ELL techniques used figurative language and expressions that confused or baffled their ELL students. For example, they used sports expression such as touchdown or talked about Uncle Sam.  In one math lesson, a teacher used the word “that” five times without clarifying what the word referred to: “We’ll get to that later… That tells us to do what? … Is that top number bigger? … Could we reduce that? … Some of you have figured that out.”

Practicing teachers who are among Gisela’s graduate students are now recording and analyzing their own classroom language, so they can make adjustments. Michele Mason, a student in the teacher leadership Ed.D.  program, will accompany Gisela to April’s American Educational Research Association meeting, where the professor will give a keynote address for the Constructivist Theory, Research, and Practice special interest group.

Other faculty news
Associate Professor Lali McCubbin is among 31 nationally and internationally recognized scholars who contributed to the new book Multiethnicity and Multiethnic Families: Development, Identity, and Resilience.

A new revision of Curriculum Leadership: Readings for Developing Quality Educational Programs has been released. Its authors are Professor Forrest Parkay,  former WSU faculty member Eric Anctil, and Glen Hass.

Clinical Assistant Professor Kimberly Robertello and her students will present a workshop at the Northwest Athletic Trainers’ Association Annual Meeting in Spokane in late March.  Their topic:  the use of exergaming in rehabilitation.

Paint between your fingers

This purpliffic picture of Rochelle Duane and a Pullman youngster helps illustrate the WSU Today article about Megan Itani, special education teacher extraordinaire. Rochelle, a graduate student from Bremerton, Washington, says she went into her fall practicum in Megan’s classroom knowing virtually nothing about preschool:

“It was incredible to see the progress of each of the students and observe how the patience and strategies that Megan and the rest of the team implemented benefited every student.

“The most important thing I learned was that preschool is not simply a miniature elementary school.  After first grade, the classes focus on reading, writing, math, spelling, etc. Almost everything is academic.  In the preschool, everything revolved around experiences and preparing the kids to be successful.  It took me a while to realize that’s not only okay, but it’s necessary! Without these experiences, without learning which side of the book to start from, what sounds barnyard animals make, or what paint feels like between your fingers, they won’t be able to grow into the children and adults we are helping them become.”

Burnishing your political cred
Our superintendents’ certification students and anyone else interested in policymaking might want to read  “How to Influence Legislators” in the January 2010 edition of InterBusiness Issues. The article was written by Frank Mackaman, of the WSU/UW collaborative Dirksen Congressional Center, and advocacy guru Stephanie Vance.  It is the first in a series of quarterly articles about policy or legislative advocacy.  Future articles will explain the four principles for effective legislative advocacy, the six key questions you’ll want to answer before you ask a policymaker for something, and five key elements of effective messages.